Monday, October 3, 2016

Autumn In Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah - Or, Always Bring Your Camera With You - Or, Why Your Camera Does & Doesn't Matter

Utah Autumn - Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
My family and I ran an errand yesterday afternoon. The plan was to go there and back. We weren't intending to do anything else.

Typically I like to bring a camera--right now a Fujifilm X-E1-- with me wherever I go. Even if I'm not planning to photograph, you just never know. It's better to bring it and not use it than to not bring it and then later find I want to photograph something. It's often that I find myself making an exposure when I didn't plan to, and I'm only able to do that if I have a camera with me.

This time, however, I didn't grab my camera. I left it at home, figuring that I wouldn't see anything worth photographing. And even if I did find something to photograph, I wasn't planning to stop since I had my family with me and we had things to do. I decided not to bother with a camera and just go run the errand.
Autumn In Big Cottonwood Canyon - Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
As we were driving down the Interstate 15 freeway in Salt Lake City, we kept noticing the amazing fall colors on the Wasatch Mountains. Big Cottonwood Canyon, especially, looked brilliant! It seemed like it would be nothing short of breathtaking scenery up on the mountain. After our errand was complete we decided to go on an adventure to check it out.

Immediately I regretted not bringing a camera. I knew it was big mistake to leave my Fuji at home. The one time that I failed to grab it is the one time I could have used it the most. Unbelievable! And, really, as a photographer, it was unacceptable. Lesson learned.

We'd been halfway up Big Cottonwood Canyon once since moving to Utah early this year. It wasn't in the fall. And we'd never been beyond that halfway point. Feeling adventurous we decided to go up and over the pass and all the way to Park City.
Utah Autumn View - Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
To say that the scenery is amazing would be an understatement! There is varied beauty found throughout the drive. It's one place that I need to spend a lot more time photographing. Big Cottonwood Canyon offers big scenic sights. This is particularly true in autumn with the trees changing to yellow, red and orange.

While I didn't bring my Fuji digital rangefinder, I did have one camera with me: my LG G4 cell phone. The camera on this phone is surprisingly capable, especially when shot in RAW and post-processed using Snapseed. Does the image quality match that of my larger-sensor camera? No, not at all. But the image quality from the G4 is good enough to not feel bad about using it. I can get good looking 8" x 12" prints no problem, and can even sometimes go larger than that.

The biggest problem with the G4's images is that they have a fairly small tolerance for post-processing. You can only push the files so much before they noticeably degrade. For these photographs I pushed them to the limit and even a tad beyond. The dynamic range limitations of the camera is especially obvious upon close inspection.
Wasatch Autumn Vista - Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
It doesn't matter all that much what camera you have with you. It's more important to have a camera--any camera--within easy reach for when photographic opportunities unexpectedly arise. The camera on your cell phone will do the trick. Your camera isn't nearly as important as what you do with it. The photographer is much more important than the gear he or she uses.

Even so, I felt many times on this drive that I could have gotten this shot or that shot if only I had my (more versatile) Fuji with me. And the finished photographs that I ended up with weren't quite to the same level of quality (upon close inspection) as what my other camera would have produced. My more expensive camera would have served me better, no doubt about it.

But, all things considered, I'm pleased with the images I captured on this impromptu drive. My cell phone is my "emergency" camera. It's what I reach for when I don't have another one with me. And it proved its worth on this occasion. In a pinch it's no big deal to use my cell phone camera, because it will do an acceptable job. And it certainly did just that yesterday afternoon.
Autumn Wasatch - Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
The Yellow Grove - Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
Waterfall At Brighton - Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
Brighton Rain - Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
Pathway To Change - Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
Autumn Trees In Big Cottonwood Canyon - Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
Autumn Grove - Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
Yellow Trees In The Wasatch Mountains - Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
Yellow Trees - Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
Changing Leaves In The Wasatch Mountains - Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah

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